3 weeks to Byo wa­ter shed­ding

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Than­deka Moyo

THE Bu­l­awayo City Council is set to in­tro­duce wa­ter shed­ding in the next three weeks.

The lat­est council re­port shows that dwin­dling wa­ter lev­els at the city’s six sup­ply dams have forced the local author­ity to in­tro­duce a 24-hour wa­ter shed­ding sched­ule for res­i­dents at the be­gin­ning of next month.

Wa­ter shed­ding is a sys­tem of con­serv­ing tap wa­ter by cut­ting sup­plies for a fixed pe­riod.

At its height in 2013, Bu­l­awayo res­i­dents went with­out wa­ter for up to four days in a week.

“It’s ev­i­dent that the avail­able wa­ter in the sup­ply dams needs to be con­served and one of the strate­gies is to wa­ter shed. There­fore a start of a 24-hour regime is rec­om­mended ef­fec­tive from the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber,” read the re­port.

“Council’s pre­vi­ous de­ci­sion (5th March, 2014) re­lat­ing to the sus­pen­sion of the wa­ter shed­ding pro­gramme be re­viewed and re­scinded.”

Coun­cil­lors ad­vised the city’s Direc­tor of En­gi­neer­ing Ser­vices, En­gi­neer Simela Dube, to be cau­tious when re­port­ing the wa­ter sit­u­a­tion and avoid giv­ing false hope.

“In­di­ca­tions from the En­gi­neer­ing Ser­vices Depart­ment had been that wa­ter vol­umes in the dams were suf­fi­cient and there was no like­li­hood of wa­ter shed­ding in the fore­see­able fu­ture. In­deed res­i­dents had been ad­vised ac­cord­ingly,” said Clr Rod­ney Jele of Ward 22.

Clr Jele said that Council should now en­sure that all bore­holes were re­ha­bil­i­tated to fore­stall a wa­ter cri­sis.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posed sched­ule, all res­i­dents are ex­empted on Sun­days while in­dus­tries and the Cen­tral Busi­ness District will not have wa­ter cuts.

Eng Dube last month said Up­per Ncema, one of the sup­ply dams, had al­ready been de­com­mis­sioned and Umz­ing­wane may fol­low in two months.

“Our to­tal in­flows for the whole of last year were just 22 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres. Our monthly draw down is nine mil­lion cu­bic me­tres. What we re­ceived from the rains this year was just an al­lo­ca­tion for two months’ sup­ply. This is why we’re find­ing us in this crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion,” said Eng Dube.

“If con­sump­tion re­mains at 120 to 121 000 cu­bic me­tres per day there­abouts, we could be able to stretch into the rainy sea­son”.

He said the cri­sis may deepen if daily con­sump­tion rates in­crease to be­tween 130,000 and 135,000 cu­bic me­tres as it did last year dur­ing the heat wave pe­riod.

Wa­ter lev­els at the city’s six sup­ply dams; In­siza, Mt­shabezi, Umz­ing­wane, Inyankuni, Up­per and Lower Ncema, stand at a com­bined 36 per­cent of their cu­mu­la­tive ca­pac­ity.

Eng Dube said the city was ex­plor­ing ways of aug­ment­ing the city’s wa­ter sup­ply.

He said one way of aug­ment­ing the city’s wa­ter sup­plies was to tap into the Nya­mandlovu Aquifer.

Eng Dube said the city was pray­ing for an im­proved rainy sea­son, say­ing the pre­vi­ous sea­son did not con­trib­ute much to city’s wa­ter sup­plies.

For years, Bu­l­awayo has been un­der a strict wa­ter ra­tioning regime whereby res­i­dents are pe­nalised if they ex­ceed a fixed daily con­sump­tion rate.

House­holds in high den­sity sub­urbs are ex­pected to use 450 litres per day while those in low den­sity sub­urbs are lim­ited to 550 litres per day.

In July 2011, the city in­tro­duced strin­gent fines for peo­ple who waste wa­ter. Fines for res­i­dents found us­ing a hosepipe were hiked to $1 500 from $200.

The pre­vi­ous year, council an­nounced that peo­ple caught us­ing do­mes­tic wa­ter for con­struc­tion would be fined $1 000 up from $30 and those who use wa­ter for brick mould­ing would also pay $1 000.

Ex­perts have ar­gued that Bu­l­awayo is not a wa­ter short­age area but the city is fac­ing chal­lenges in ex­tract­ing avail­able wa­ter for use. — @thamamoe

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